Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has signed a bill into law that bans most gender-affirming care for transgender minors.
Kemp, a Republican, signed Senate Bill 140 Thursday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. It bans surgery and hormone treatment for people under 18 for the purposes of gender transition, while it allows for the use of puberty blockers. Young people who started hormone therapy before July 1, when the law goes into effect, can stay on the treatment.
Genital surgery is not recommended for minors anyway, but the other treatments are endorsed by all major medical groups. Violation of the law is punishable by revocation of a doctor’s license.
Kemp did not hold a signing ceremony for the legislation, instead announcing the signing via Twitter.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Carden Summers, told the Journal-Constitution he was “tickled” that Kemp signed the bill so quickly — it had cleared the legislature Tuesday. He said it was not a “zero-tolerance” bill like other states had passed, but Democratic politicians and LGBTQ+ activists said it will nonetheless hurt young people, and the American Civil Liberties Union’s Georgia affiliate promised to sue over it.
“SB 140 will outlaw the care necessary to save children’s lives,” said a statement from state Rep. Nikema Williams, chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia, as quoted by CNN. “It is not only cruel, but it flies in the face of medical science, standards of patient care, and the lived experiences of those whom it impacts.”
Added another Democrat, state Sen. Josh McLaurin: “Kids will commit suicide. Kids will feel like they’re not being heard, that their basic existence is being invalidated and erased.”
Georgia is the most populous state so far to restrict gender-affirming care for trans youth, the Human Rights Campaign notes. “Governor Kemp should be ashamed of himself — taking life-saving care away from vulnerable youth is a disgusting and indefensible act,” said a statement from Cathryn Oakley, HRC’s state legislative director and senior counsel. This law harms transgender youth and terrorizes their families, but helps no one — there will just be young people left without medically necessary, age-appropriate care, parents stripped of the ability to get their kids the care they need, and the entire transgender community in Georgia feeling like they are unwelcome in their own state. This is politics at its worst, passing policies that harm real people just to appease a small number of extremist anti-LGBTQ+ activists. It is discrimination, pure and simple.”
Also, Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham told the Journal-Constitution, “This legislation is a clear attack on the rights of transgender children, their parents, and the medical community in Georgia as a whole. We know that Georgia is better than this and that the majority of Georgians stand with us on the right side of history.”
Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia, released this statement: “We will use every legal means at our disposal to block this bill from hurting children and families. It’s disturbing how quickly the governor acts to sign bills that take away people’s rights.”
Other states that have banned gender-affirming care for minors through legislation are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah. Florida has put one in place through its medical boards and is considering a bill for an even stricter measure. The Alabama and Arkansas bans are temporarily blocked by court action. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear Friday vetoed a bill that combines a ban on gender-affirming care with restrictions on LGBTQ+ content in schools and other provisions, but Republicans in the legislature have enough votes for an override.